"I was very depressed and I tried to kill myself a few times with pills," the actress recalls.
Jackie Cruz has revealed she tried to commit suicide multiple times after a near-fatal car crash when she was a teen.
When the "Orange Is the New Black" star was on her way to a concert, her friend, who was racing another car, lost control of the wheel. Cruz, then 16, was ejected 20 feet from the windshield. She wasn't wearing her seatbelt and was immediately taken to the hospital where they performed emergency brain surgery.
"They had to shave my head right away," she told People in their latest issue. "I had a kidney contusion, a collapsed lung, and two broken vertebrae. So my eyes were crooked and my face was crooked, I couldn't smile."
While she made it out of surgery alive, Cruz was in a 72-hour coma and woke up from sedation two weeks later. However, as a young aspiring actress, her drastically different appearance took a serious toll on her mental health.
"Looking at myself in the mirror, not like recognizing myself, was scary," she recalled. "I wanted to commit suicide at the time because all I ever wanted was to be an actress and a singer and I grew up just watching beautiful people on TV and I just felt like that was it for me."
"It didn't look like me anymore," she added. "I didn't know who it was. I was very depressed and I tried to kill myself a few times with pills."
Fortunately, Cruz was able to pull herself out of the dark depression with the help of a friend she made in the hospital.
"There was a little girl in the hospital. She was 10 years old, and her name is Melly," she said. "She will never walk again, but she is strong and happy and she would come by my room all the time and I never really paid attention."
"Then we got to talking, and she told me I was pretty. She taught me that beauty is always from within," she added. "It's the way you treat someone, it's the way you are, and she saw that. She saw the strength without, she saw the beauty in me without looking at my surface."
Cruz, 32, said that now looking back, she is thankful for the traumatic experience. "I don't regret anything," she said. "I'm so grateful to God that [it] acted and happened because I was really going in the wrong way of life and I feel like it was a slap in the face."